Al Qaeda’s senior leaders

Al Qaeda’s Leaders

Despite reports that al Qaeda’s leaders have been scattered in Pakistan’s tribal areas and have been reduced to a mere handful in the region, the terror group maintains a deep bench of leaders capable of assuming leadership positions. This list does not include local and regional Pakistani and Afghan commanders who have assumed important roles in al Qaeda’s network.

This list is under development, if you have any suggestions, please email Bill Roggio with the al Qaeda leader’s name, a brief description of the role in the group, and any photo if available.

List of senior al Qaeda leaders

Abd al Aziz al Masri

Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah

Abu Ayyub al Masri

Abu Faraj al Yemeni

Abu Haris

Abu Ihklas al Masri

Abu Kasha al Iraqi

Abu Khalaf

Abu Turab al Urduni

Abu Yahya al Libi

Adam Gadahn

Adnan G. el Shukrijumah

Ali Sayyid Muhamed Mustafa al Bakri

Dr. Amin al Haq

Hamza bin Laden

Ilyas Kashmiri

Mafouz Ould Walid

Marwan al Suri

Matiur Rehman

Mohamed Abul Khair

Muhammad Rab’a al Sayid al Bahtiti

Mustafa Abu Yazid

Mustafa al Jaziri

Qari Mohammad Zafar

Qari Saifullah Akhtar

Qari Zia Rahman

Rashid Rauf

Saad al Sharif

Sa’ad bin Laden

Saif al Adel

Sheikh Issa al Masri

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

Thirwat Saleh Shihata

Al Qaeda in Iran:

Ali Saleh Husain

Atiyah Abd al Rahman

Mustafa Hamid

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula:

Abdullah al Qarawi

Hamza Ali Saleh al Dhayani

Nasser al Wuhayshi

Said Ali al Shihri

Abd al Aziz al Masri

Base of operations: Unknown.

About: Abd al Aziz al Masri serves on al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis. He is an expert on conventional explosives and chemical weapons. Aziz served as an an instructor in al Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan.

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Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah

Base of operations: Iran

About: Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah is a member of al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council. He is a senior member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad and serves as a financial officer, facilitator, and operational planner for al Qaeda. He is based out of Iran.

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Abdullah al Qarawi

Base of operations: Iran

About: Abdullah al Qarawi is a Saudi who has been operating inside Iran for more than three years. Qarawi has more than 100 Saudis working for him in Iran. He is in charge of al Qaeda’s operations in the Persian Gulf and Iran. He also funnels new recruits into Afghanistan.

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Abu Ayyub al Masri


Base of operations: Tribal Areas, Pakistan

About: Abu Ayyub al Masri was the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq and is a senior leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He is close to Zawahiri. He is believed to have been recalled to Pakistan after the successful US surge in Iraq.

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Ali Saleh Husain

Base of operations: Iran

About: Ali Saleh Husain, who is also known as Abu Dhahak al Yemeni, is a senior operative that provided logistical assistance to al Qaeda’s affiliated groups. He is close to bin Laden. Husain coordinated bin Laden on the training of fighters in terrorist camps in Afghanistan who were preparing to travel to Chechnya. He is al Qaeda’s point of contact with Fatah al Islam and Jund al Islam, al Qaeda’s affiliates in Lebanon and Gaza respectively. Husain worked with al Qaeda operational commander Abu Zubaydah to plot attacks against Israel and facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives into Iran after the fall of the Taliban regime.

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Abu Faraj al Yemeni

Base of operations:

About: Abu Faraj al Yemeni is one of the original founders of al Qaeda and served as a member of the shura council in the 1990s. He is still thought to hold a senior leadership position in al Qaeda.

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Abu Haris

Base of operations: Tribal areas, Pakistan

About: Abu Haris is a senior al Qaeda commander in Pakistan as well as a senior leader in Lashkar-e-Taiba. He was a member of the Lashkar-i-Taiba, but now is a member of al Qaeda’s shura in Pakistan. He also is in charge of a terror cell operating in the Peshawar Valley.

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Abu Ihklas al Masri

Base of operations: Kunar and Nuristan provinces, Afghanistan

About: Abu Ihklas al Masri was appointed the head of al Qaeda’s operations in Nuristan and Kunar in 2005. He leads a band of several hundred fighters and is behind many of the attacks against US and Afghan forces in this region, including suicide and IED attacks.

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Abu Khalaf

Base of operations: Syria

About: Abu Khalaf, whose real name is Sa’ad Uwayyid ‘Ubayd Mu’jil al Shammari, is responsible for facilitating the movement of suicide bombers, as well as the flow of money, weapons, terrorists and other resources from Syria into Iraq. Khalaf recruits terrorists from North Africa to serve as suicide bombers and also helps al Qaeda suicide bombers based in the Persian Gulf region travel to the Levant to conduct suicide attacks.

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Abu Kasha al Iraqi

Base of operations: Mir Ali, North Waziristan, Pakistan

About: Abu Kasha al Iraqi (also known as Abu Akash) serves as the key link between al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, or executive council, and the Taliban. He facilitates al Qaeda’s external operations against the West. He also serves as a battalion commander in al Qaeda’s Shadow Army. He operates from Mir al and leads two local Pakistani commanders, Imanullah and Haq Nawaz Dawar.

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Abu Turab al Urduni

Base of operations:

About: Abu Turab al Urduni is and expert trainer and document forger, and is the son-in-law of Zawahiri. He is thought to be one of five al Qaeda leaders privy to the operational details of the September 11th attacks. Urduni may have been killed during invasion of Afghanistan but this has not been confirmed.

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Abu Yahya al Libi


Base of operations: Tribal areas, Pakistan

About: Abu Yahya al Libi is one of al Qaeda’s most prolific spokesman who regularly appears on propaganda tapes. He is also an ideological leader. He is he only surviving member of the four al Qaeda operatives who escaped from Bagram prison in 2005.

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Adam Gadahn


Base of operations: Tribal areas, Pakistan

About: Adam Gadahn is al Qaeda’s American-born spokesman and a propagandist who works for As Sahab, al Qaeda’s media outlet. He is also known as Abu Azzam al Ameriki.

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Adnan G. el Shukrijumah

Base of operations: Unknown

About: Adnan G. el Shukrijumah is al Qaeda’s operations commander for the Western hemisphere.

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Ali Sayyid Muhamed Mustafa al Bakri

Base of operations: Tribal areas, Pakistan

About: Ali Sayyid Muhamed Mustafa al Bakri is a member of al Qaeda’s shura with close ties to Saif al Adel and Ayman al Zawahiri. His expertise is in bomb making and chemical weapons. He was an instructor al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

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Atiyah Abd al Rahman

Base of operations: Iran

About: Atiyah Abd al Rahman is a primary liaison to al Qaeda in Iraq and al Qaeda’s network in Iran. He was instrumental in bringing the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) under the banner of al Qaeda. The GSPC changed its name to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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Dr. Amin al Haq

Base of operations: Tribal Areas, Pakistan

About: Dr. Amin al Haq is the chief of the Black Guard, al Qaeda’s fanatical bodyguard assigned to protect Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri.

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Hamza Ali Saleh al Dhayani


Base of operations: Yemen

About: Hamza Ali Saleh al Dhayani is an al Qaeda leader and trainer behind several deadly attacks against Westerners in Yemen. He is the leader of the Yemen Soldiers Brigade, one of several al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen.

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Hamza bin Laden

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Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Hamza bin Laden is one of Osama bin Laden’s sons. He serves as a senior leader of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

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Ilyas Kashmiri


Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Ilyas Kashmiri is one of al Qaeda’s senior military commanders in Pakistan. He is the operational commander of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI), an al Qaeda-linked terror group that operates in Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

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Mafouz Ould Walid

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Base of operations: Iran

About: Mafouz Ould Walid who is also known as Abu Hafs the Mauritanian, is a senior aide to bin Laden. He also serves as the leader of the Mauritanian Group for Preaching and Jihad as well as a military operations commander. He is based out of Iran.

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Marwan al Suri

Base of operations:North Waziristan, Pakistan

About: Marwan al Suri is al Qaeda’s operations chief in South Waziristan.

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Matiur Rehman

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Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Matiur Rehman is a senior al Qaeda leader who is known to manage the “jihadi rolodex,” the list of the tens of thousands of operatives who have passed through terror training camps over the years.

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Mohamed Abul Khair

Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Mohamed Abdul Khair is an aide to Ayman al Zawahiri and is Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law.

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Muhammad Rab’a al Sayid al Bahtiti

Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Muhammad Rab’a al Sayid al Bahtiti, who is also known as Abu Dujana al Masri, is a trusted aide to and the son-in-law of Ayman al Zawahiri. He is a senior leader in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. He served on an al Qaeda military committee and provided military training that included urban warfare tactics for al Qaeda members.

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Mustafa Abu Yazid


Base of operations: Afghanistan

About: Mustafa Abu Yazid who is also known as Sheikh Saeed, is al Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan He also serves as al Qaeda’s chief of staff.

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Mustafa al Jaziri

Base of operations: Afghanistan

About: is a senior military commander for al Qaeda. He is a member of al Qaeda’s military shura. Jaziri is an Algerian national.

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Mustafa Hamid

mustafa-hamid.JPG
Base of operations: Iran

About: Mustafa Hamid, who is also known as Abu Walid al Masri, is al Qaeda’s emir of Iran and ambassador to Iran. He is the father-in-law of Saif al Adel. Hamid ran a terrorist camp near Jalalabad during the rule of the Taliban.

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Nasser al Wuhayshi

Base of operations:

About: Nasser al Wuhayshi, who is also known as Abu Basir al Yemeni, is al Qaeda’s leader in Yemen. He served as Osama bin laden’s aide-de-camp.

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Qari Mohammad Zafar

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Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Qari Mohammad Zafar is a senior leader in the al Qaeda affiliate Laskhar-e-Jhangvi. He commands a unit in the the Fedayeen-e-Islam, a group made up of al Qaeda, Taliban, and Laskhar-e-Jhangvi fighters based in South Waziristan.

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Qari Saifullah Akhtar

Qari-Saifullah-Akhtar.jpg
Base of operations: Pakistan

About: Qari Saifullah Akhtar is a senior al Qaeda military leader who operates in Paksitan. Akhtar is the influential leader of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and commands Brigade 313, a unit in al Qaeda’s Shadow Army. Akhtar has direct links with Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden, and Ayman al Zawahiri.

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Qari Zia Rahman

Base of operations: Nuristan and Kunar provinces, Afghanistan

About: Qari Zia Rahman is an al Qaeda leader that operates in Paksitan’s Bajaur tribal agency as well as Afghanistan’s Nuristan and Kunar provinces. He is allied with Baitullah Mehsud and bin Laden. Rahman’s fighters are from Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and various Arab nations. He commands a brigade in al Qaeda’s Shadow Army.

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Rashid Rauf


Base of operations: South Waziristan, Pakistan

About: Rashid Rauf is the al Qaeda leader in charge of the external operations branch responsible for attacks in Europe. He escaped Pakistani custody and is thought to be hiding in South Waziristan. He is a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar.

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Saad al Sharif

Base of operations: Unknown

About: Saad al Sharif serves as a senior financier for al Qaeda.

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Sa’ad bin Laden

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Base of operations: Tribal Areas, Pakistan

About: Sa’ad is designated as Osama’s heir. He is an operational commander who was involved in the 2003 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Sa’ad made key decisions for al Qaeda and was part of a small group of al Qaeda members that was involved in managing the terrorist organization from Iran.

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Said Ali al Shihri

Base of operations: Yemen

About: Said Ali al Shihri is the deputy of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen and may have played a direct role in al Qaeda’s attack on the American embassy in Sana’a, Yemen in September of 2008. He was released from Guantánamo in November of 2007.

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Saif al Adel


Base of operations: Iran

About: Saif al Adel is al Qaeda’s senior strategist and is thought to be the third in command of al Qaeda. He essentially serves as al Qaeda’s war minister and leads al Qaeda military shura. He is based out of Iran.

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Sheikh Issa al Masri

Base of operations: Syria

About: Sheikh Issa is the spiritual adviser for Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Zawahiri’s organization that merged with al Qaeda, and he is also the leader of al Jihad fi Waziristan, an al Qaeda branch in North Waziristan. Issa has radicalized thousands of Taliban by indoctrinating them with the Wahabbi version of Islam. He moved to Syria to aid in rebuildign al Qaeda in Iraq’s network.

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Sulaiman Abu Ghaith

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Base of operations: Unknown

About: Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is a senior spokesman for al Qaeda. He is thought to be in Iran. Ghaith is a founder of Al Wafa al Igatha al Islamia, a charity that acts as a front for al Qaeda’s fund-raising.

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Thirwat Saleh Shihata

Base of operations: Tribal areas, Pakistan

About: Thirwat Saleh Shihata is Ayman al Zawahiri’s deputy.

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Base of operations:

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